January 25, 2012

Getting oil trucks off the road

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

Last Friday, state and federal officials, along with a number of local industry leaders and landowners flocked to McKenzie County to celebrate the commissioning of Bridger Pipeline’s new Four Bears Pipeline. Speakers included Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad.
The Four Bears Pipeline begins just west of New Town and runs 77 miles south through McKenzie, Dunn and Billings counties to existing infrastructure near Belfield. Delivering only crude oil, the line feeds 80,000 barrels per day to the Butte Pipeline at Baker, Mont., and another 25,000 barrels per day to the Bakken Oil Express Rail Terminal at Dickinson.
Bridger Pipeline began work on the Four Bears Pipeline in the fall of 2010 and worked through one of the worst winters in North Dakota’s history to finish in late spring 2011. Three different regional contractors constructed the line through tracks that crossed the land of nearly 100 landowners and tenants.
Four Bears Pipeline began running crude oil in June of last year and became fully operational in September. It receives loads at terminals in Keene and Killdeer, along with other gathering systems along the line. Before this line was up and running, a truck making deliveries to Belfield could have a round trip of up to 232 miles per load. That distance was cut to as little as 30 miles per load with the introduction of the Four Bears Pipeline.
“This is certainly an important day. Not just for our state, but for our country,” said Sen. Conrad at the Jan. 20 commissioning.
The newly-constructed pipeline will have a tremendous affect on semi-truck traffic through McKenzie and Dunn counties, and its positive affects should increase over time. Currently, the Four Bears Pipeline has removed 50,000 truck miles per day from Highways 22 and 85. Once further construction plans are completed, that number should jump to 75,000 miles per day. Which means, at full capacity, the Four Bears Pipeline will be able to take an amazing 25 million semi-truck miles off Highways 22 and 85 per year.
“It’s incredible to think about the number of trucks that will be removed from the roads,” said Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford of the huge impact the line will have on traffic.
Gov. Dalrymple agrees that pipelines are the answer to moving oil across western North Dakota and is committed to seeing the construction of more lines.
“The remarkable growth in western North Dakota’s oil and gas industry has created opportunities and challenges for our state, and one of those challenges has been reducing the number of trucks traveling on the region’s roadways,” said Gov. Dalrymple. “Bridger’s new Four Bears Pipeline will increase our intrastate pipeline capacity and significantly reduce the number of truck miles traveled, resulting in less impact on roads and safer driving conditions.”
The affect of this pipeline, and others like it, is both immediate and lasting. In the first year, a line running crude oil will eliminate 37 percent of the trucks coming into a well site. But over the 15-year life of a well, it can eliminate up to 72 percent of the trucks needed. A fact that will bring less traffic, a better capability to manage road conditions, and higher efficiency in commodity movement. The effects of such a line, however, go far beyond our own region.
“It means we can better manage regional growth and build a higher quality of life for our people. It also means more energy independence from Middle Eastern markets, which increases our nation’s security. Our energy-rich state is fueling our nation and fueling our future, and pipelines like Four Bears are a big part of doing that,” says Sen. Hoeven.
Hank and Tad True are a father-son duo who manage several companies, including Bridger Pipeline, LLC, under True Companies located in Casper, Wyo. Their companies run more than 3,400 miles of pipelines spanning across eastern Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The completion of the Four Bears Pipeline coincides with their company’s 40-year anniversary of working with North Dakota’s oil and gas industry. An event Gov. Dalrymple commemorated with the presentation of signed North Dakota license plates reading “True” to both Hank and Tad.
The Trues send special thanks to all those who worked in constructing the line, especially through terrible weather conditions. They also thank all the the county officials who helped secure rights-of-way and the landowners who were willing to grant them access through their properties.
“This pipeline is a great example of everyone working together to address the impacts resulting from the rapid growth of the region’s oil and gas production,” says Gov. Dalrymple. “I commend Bridger Pipeline and all those involved in its completion for their commitment to North Dakota’s energy industry.”
It just goes to show that Tad True was certainly correct in what he called his shameless advertisement, “Got Pipelines?” Western North Dakota can answer that with an ever-growing “Yes!”